I watch Richard trudging through the pumpkin patch, in search of the biggest, roundest, most perfect pumpkin ever.
“Hurry up, Mommy,” he yells back at me while the crisp glory of autumn brushes past us in puffs of red, yellow and brown. “Here’s the best,” he announces, smacking his hand on a huge pumpkin before dashing off to examine another. His voice rises in tandem with his excitement. I smile, savoring our yearly mother and son tradition.
Richard’s birth in spring turned into my winter of bleakness when I could no longer ignore his lack of progress. With a heart laden in denial, I took him to our pediatrician. Severe mental retardation tagged him and dogged me.
The endless whirring of how and what and why buzzed through my mind like locusts in a cornfield, consuming joy and hope. I tried to understand why God did this to me. I worried about my son’s future. I bled for my son, his father and his siblings.
I longed to shelter my son from the remarks of cruel or ignorant people. Even though he didn’t comprehend the comments, they cut me deep. It took many more tears and prayers to repair me. My son was fine.
As each year passed and other children progressed in the cycle of life with school, graduation, marriage, and having their own children, my heart suffered pained loss with each milestone never passed.
Yet, drop by relentless drop, my tears came to water the flowers of a new spring. Just as the crocuses stubbornly push their way through lingering snow every year, so faith began to press past worry to find the higher purposes of God. While the dogwood displayed its delicate white blooms against the stark dark bark, peace budded in me against bleak loss.
Summer warmed my heart as I learned to view my son through new eyes. I grew to see the hidden blessings of having an eternal child. My son will always believe in Santa Claus, reliving the magic of Christmas with the same zest every year.
Richard taught me God because he holds no grudges and knows no prejudice. His love remains unconditional no matter how much I fail him. His enthusiasm for life continues unabated.
“Mommy, mommy, I found it,” Richard yells, waving at me to come join him. As he has done every year, for many years, he has found the biggest, roundest, most perfect pumpkin ever. I hurry to admire his prize, hugging him close.
“You’re the best mom in the whole wide world,” he announces with loud exuberance, leaning down to kiss my cheek. “The very, very best! Thank you, Mommy.”
My heart overflows in a cornucopia of gratefulness. I have harvested the fruit of those summer years in the autumn of worship. My garden is filled with the vibrant, aromatic blooms of love, joy and peace.
Thank you, Lord, for blessing me with this rare gift you entrusted to me—my son. Amen.
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